> Weekly Torah Portion > Parents & Kids > Family Parsha

Saving Face

Vayeshev (Genesis 37-40 )

by Nesanel Yoel Safran


Jacob returns to Hebron, the ancestral home of his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham. He hopes to continue to follow in their example by teaching people a happier way to live.

Jacob has twelve sons. They are all very special and will grow up to become the leaders of the Tribes of Israel. Judah is one of the greatest of Jacob's sons. His brothers look up to him as if he were a king.

One big lesson in this week's Torah portion is how important it is not to embarrass someone, even if that person is in the wrong.

We learn this from Tamar, Judah's courageous daughter-in-law. She goes out of her way not to embarrass Judah when he wrongly accuses her of not behaving properly.

Afterwards Judah bravely admits, in public, that he was wrong and Tamar was really right.



"Oh, who stole my bracelet!?" shrieked Mrs. Harrow, the ballet teacher.

She was a nice woman, but excitable and very forgetful.

Yesterday she had been so thrilled by Margie's performance in the latest dance recital that she took the pretty bracelet she had been wearing right off her wrist and gave it to Margie.

She even scribbled a note to go along with the gift. It said:

"My dear Margie,"
     "Twenty years ago my dance teacher gave me this bracelet, and today I'm passing it on to you."

Margie had felt honored.

But now the teacher seemed to have totally forgotten the whole incident as she frantically searched for the bracelet and hurled accusations at the frightened girls.

"I know someone took it! " she cried. "Whoever has it will have to leave the class, and I'll see to it that she never dances in this city again!"

Suddenly the teacher noticed the bracelet on Margie's wrist. "So you're the thief!" she exclaimed.

Margie turned red with embarrassment. She knew she was innocent. But she also knew that if she told what had really happened, the whole class would lose respect for the teacher and Mrs. Harrow would feel humiliated.

Everyone was watching and Margie didn't know what to do.

Suddenly she had an idea. She pulled out of her pocket the note Mrs. Harrow had written her, and silently handed it to the teacher.

"She will surely remember when she sees this note," thought Margie. "I'll leave it up to her. If she wants to own up to her mistake, fine, but I'm not going to embarrass her even if I have to leave this class."

When Mrs. Harrow saw the note she turned white. "My dear girls," she gasped. "I'm so sorry for accusing you. Margie isn't a thief, I'm the one who was wrong."

The student and the teacher embraced, surrounded by the class who had new respect for both of them.


Ages 3-5

Q. Did Margie really steal the bracelet?
A. No

Q. So why didn't Margie tell her teacher right away?
A. Because the teacher would get embarrassed.

Q. Is it right to make someone feel embarrassed?
A. No.


Ages 6-9

Q. Why did the class respect Margie and Mrs. Harrow in the end?
A. Because it's so important not to embarrass anyone. And Margie was strong enough not to embarrass her teacher even though she could have. Also Mrs. Harrow was brave enough to admit she was wrong.

Q. Is this what we usually think of when someone is called strong or brave? How is it different?


Ages 10 and Up

Both Margie and Mrs. Harrow made some very brave decisions:

  • Margie -- not to embarrass her teacher even though she was wrong;
  • Mrs. Harrow -- by admitting the truth even though it was hard.

Q. How do you think Margie felt when her teacher accused her?

Q. How would you want to react if you were in Margie's shoes?

Q. What was brave about Margie's decision not to embarrass her teacher? What risk did she take?

Q. What risk did Mrs. Harrow take when she admitted she was wrong?


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